They Smell Like the Future: Austin Daye

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 22, 2009 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images.

Gonzaga Sophomore
6′10.75”, 192 lbs. (Combine measurements)
21 years old
Small forward
Projection: Mid-late 1st round
Combine Interview

Austin Daye doesn’t exactly fit the Mavs’ needs like a glove.  He’s a 6-10 small forward, which as you may recall is a position currently occupied by Josh Howard.  Daye obviously won’t be running the offense, he can’t fill the void at shooting guard (unless that meant Howard could be moved to the 2), and he isn’t going to be defending centers anytime soon.

In the spirit of the NBA draft, we’ve now covered what Daye is not.  What Daye is, though, is a pretty intriguing talent.  He’s a very versatile offensive player and an excellent shooter.  His knuckles rub on the ground when he walks, and he’s got some serious size.

Digging for stars in this draft is going to get you nowhere.  Instead, teams need to bank on talent and production to pan out with rotation players, with second tier guys to supplement their team’s core.  Austin Daye is a perfect prospect for that set of expectations.  He’s still far too thin to be dominant at 6’10”, and lacks both the strength and speed that would make him a superior NBA small forward.  His athletic abilities aren’t anything to write home about, but his height helps him compensate for that weakness defensively.  Daye’s knack as a scorer helps him from just about any spot on the floor; his three point stroke is pure, and his finishing ability is solid.  He’s a do-it-all offensive small forward with plenty of potential.  Daye’s blessing and his curse are one in the same: his versatility is more likely to result in a still very respectable Lamar Odom-esque career than a LeBron James one.  He has the talent to be a fantastic player, but his skill set and lack of brawn could send a team on all sorts of tangents trying to find his place on the floor.

I have a feeling that Daye would thrive in a role similar to Odom’s.  With two proven scorers ahead of Daye in the food chain, he could thrive as an offensive jack-of-all trades.  The Mavs have that with Dirk and JET, just as the Lakers do with Kobe and Pau Gasol.  Still, like Lamar Odom, teams may find Daye to be a bit mind-boggling.  He’s not a very aggressive player on either end, and that style may be confused for a lack of effort.  The skills are all there, and the notion that Daye wouldn’t seek to utilize them at all times is a bit confusing to some.  It’s one of the things that comes with the package, and given what Daye can bring to a team, I think it’s well worth it.

The biggest obstacle in terms of drafting Daye will be the Phoenix Suns at 14.  The Suns are rumored to be very interested, and have brought Daye in for workouts.  But if Daye manages to slip past the Suns for whatever reason, he could certainly slip into a freefall.  The incredible parity throughout the first round means that many teams are going to be high on very different players.  If there is no general consensus on Daye, it seems very plausible that he could still be on the board when the Mavs pick at 22.

I’m sold on Daye’s potential, but it’ll take some time before he’s ready to accept offensive responsibility in the NBA.  There’s a reason he was rocking the t-shirt look on the college court; Daye is so lean that his height won’t be useful in the post until he bulks up.  In the short-term, Daye can spot-up on the perimeter, take bigs off the dribble, and finish around the basket.  Not a bad set of skills, but only a glimpse of what Daye can bring to the table as a pro.

Pro-Level Projections:

I’ve asked Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics.com to use his Box Score Prediction System (BSPS) to project career numbers for Daye.  The values given are career averages per 36 minutes, considering that per minute statistics at least partially eliminate variables such as abnormal playing time, lack of opportunity, etc.  The projections are based on Daye’s two-year career at Gonzaga.  For comparison’s sake, I’ve dug up some other players who have averaged similar numbers over their careers (click here for an enlarged chart):

(Note: the years indicated in the chart refer to the last year of the season played.  For examples, the 2004-2005 season will be marked 05.)

Finding comparisons for Daye was tricky; he rebounds at a rate superior to most small forwards, and has enough range to disqualify most bigs.  That left one player in Daye’s range that had both size/rebounding and a sweet shooting stroke: Rasheed Wallace.  Wallace is a fitting comparison for Daye, despite the fact that Sheed is a power forward/center and Daye a more natural wing.  Just as Rasheed has puzzled teams with his playing style and tendencies, Daye may get on some nerves with his unwillingness to dominate.  What separates Daye from a player of Wallace’s caliber is defense.  Sheed is one of the better interior defenders of this era, combining strength and size with decent speed and shot-blocking instincts.  Daye is more likely to come out an average defender, albeit one who gets his fair share of blocks.

Heard It Through the Pre-Draft Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 20, 2009 under xOther | Read the First Comment

General

  • Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Blazers have legitimate interest in Jason Kidd.  Boot up the trade machine!
  • Nick Prevenas of NBADraft.net: “The 2009 draft frequently draws comparisons to the 2000 draft — otherwise known as the worst draft in NBA history. Kenyon Martin (a player eerily similar to Griffin) went No. 1 overall, but never developed into the dominant power forward we expected to see after his career at Cincinnati was stopped short by a broken leg. He turned into a key cog in the Denver Nuggets’ run to the Western Conference Finals, but injuries have held back a potentially promising career. The rest of that draft was just dreadful. Marcus Fizer? Keyon Dooling? Jerome Moiso? Courtney Alexander? Lottery picks. Seriously…Is this year’s draft that bad? At this point, I’m leaning no. However, it is the type of draft where a team would much rather pick in the 15-25 range than from 4-13…[Jrue] Holiday — along with guys like Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan, Stephen Curry, Jordan Hill, Jeff Teague, and so on — are seeing their stock artificially inflated because of the lack of competition.”
  • Matt Kamalsky of Draft Express breaks down the shooting guards in the draft (notably Marcus Thornton, Terrence Williams, Jeff Teague) by the numbers.
  • John Hollinger’s Draft Rater is very high on Ty Lawson, Austin Daye, and Nick Calathes, three prospects which have been linked to the Mavs via rumors or simply availability.  The three came in as the 1st, 4th, and 6th best collegiate prospects respectively, outclassing plenty of their lottery-bound draftmates.  Jordan Hill and Patty Mills are listed as potential disappointments.  Hollinger willingly admits that the Rater has missed the boat entirely on some prospects, so keep in mind that prospect hunting is hardly a science.

Ty Lawson

  • The Nets’ GM, Kiki Vandeweghe, gave a glowing review of Lawson following his workout in Jersey: “To me, it’s more of what the guy has inside. It’s more about speed, quickness…At the end of the day, that’s what basketball is. Would you like to have taller players on your team? Yeah, it’s basketball…But having said that, this guy I think is one of the more ready guys to play. If he comes in, he helps a team, no question about it…First of all, he’s very strong…If you look at the history, he makes other players better, knows how to play. If you go back through the history of our league, guys who were very strong that way — no matter what size they are — they find a way to compete at their position. I think he really helps a team.”
  • Dave Berri also makes the case for Lawson.  That’s not one, but two of the most prominent stat heads in the field on Lawson’s side.  Ty also has all of the “heart of a champion” rhetoric and anecdotal evidence he could possibly need.  Considering that all that really seems to stand between Lawson and a guaranteed spot in the lottery are his measurables, can the Mavs really expect him to tumble to 22?

Jordan Hill

  • The Knicks may have some interest in Hill at 8, so if the Mavs are content with moving up in the draft to snag him, they’d best play it safe and aim for Washington’s 5th pick.  Then again, maybe they shouldn’t be doing that at all for the likes of Jordan Hill.  And then again, maybe Hill has convinced the Wizards to stick around in the lottery.

Jeff Teague

  • Michael Stephenson, in a guest post for TrueHoop: “Teague had the purest stroke and hit his jumper most consistently in the drills and during the scrimmage…But it was obvious that he’s a level behind and had trouble keeping up with his peers. In an extremely guard heavy draft, I imagine it’s going to be tough for him to turn many heads.”  The peers that Stephenson describes are Jonny Flynn, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, and Tyreke Evans.
  • John Givony, of DraftExpress fame, wrote a feature on point guards for NBA.com.  Conveniently absent from Givony’s superlatives is Jeff Teague, and there’s a reason for that: Teague is not, and likely will never be, a conventional point guard.  Asking Teague to run the show is akin to asking a young Jason Terry of the same

Terrence Williams


via Detroit Bad Boys via Dime

  • The Mavs certainly have competition for the services of Terrence Williams.  The Nets seem awfully high on him, and the Bobcats would not only make sense (Williams seems like a Larry Brown kinda guy), but be entirely possible with the 12th pick.
  • Williams knows how to win over the hearts and minds of NBA coaches, teammates, and die-hards: defense.  It’s what separates him from the rest of the talent pool the Mavs may face with the 22 pick, and Williams has the size, the resolve, and the athleticism to be a fantastic defender in the big leagues.